For the third act in GQ’s “The Performers” film series, actor and “Stranger Things” series star Charlie Heaton retraces his first steps in New York inspired by Patti Smith’s memoir.
When English actor Charlie Heaton first moved to New York a few years ago he ventured to the city with a small bag, big ideas and a copy of Patti Smith’s memoir Just Kids — the songwriter’s account of moving to the city as a 21-year-old aspiring artist in 1967.
“The book pulls you straight into that time,” says the 23-year-old British actor. “It was after the war so it was an older, dirtier New York and it became a time of rebellion and expression, feminism and anger.”
For the third act of “The Performers” GQ’s video series, the viewer is a voyeur on the creative connection between Charlie Heaton and New York, the city bringing out the romantic, the wonderer, the dreamer in him. “It makes me want to be more creative,” he says. “The beauty of this city is that it’s constantly changing; it’s progressive. It might not be what people think it once was, but it still has that draw for people all over the world.”
When Patti Smith came to New York half a century ago it was a holy ground. The land of Birdland “blessed” by John Coltrane; the Five Spot on St Mark’s Place, the hallowed land where Billie Holiday used to sing. And while 1970s New York may no longer exist, the spirit prevails, which Heaton wanted to capture in the video.
“It’s a city where you can choose to reinvent yourself in any way you want,” he says, like his character Jonathan aspires to in Netflix’s acclaimed drama Stranger Things. “Especially in the time that we’re in now, it’s so important to have a place like New York, to feel comfortable and to express what is going on around us.”